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POLITICS: PennAve

Steny Hoyer: Budget deal likely will need Democratic support to pass House

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The House's No. 2 Democrat says he's not sure if the $2 trillion bipartisan budget deal reached Tuesday night has enough Democratic support to pass the chamber.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said it's his "presumption" -- based on other past bipartisan compromises, such as last year's New Year's Eve deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff" and the 2011 Budget Control Act -- that the budget deal brokered by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., doesn't have enough Republican votes to pass without Democratic support.

But he told reporters Wednesday he's not sure how his caucus will vote because he hasn't whipped his members on the deal, saying it will be up to them to decide the "position they think is appropriate under the circumstances."

Hoyer wouldn't say how he will vote but said the measure, while better than nothing, "is an extraordinary missed opportunity that keeps the sequester [cuts and] does not put this country on a long-term, fiscally sustainable path."

The deal includes an $85 billion package in spending cuts and revenue from new and extended fees -- but no taxes or cuts to Medicare beneficiaries -- to replace $63 billion in cuts to agency budgets over the coming two years.

The Maryland Democrat also said it would be wrong to assume the Murray-Ryan compromise represents a new era of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill.

"We had a bipartisan vote on the Violence Against Women Act [this year], we had a bipartisan vote on some of these fiscal bills; it did not usher in an era of bipartisanship cooperation," he said. "That does not give you much encouragement that we've entered into a new era of bipartisanship."

Hoyer also said that while he's disappointed the budget compromise doesn't include a provision to extend long-term unemployment insurance benefits, which are set to expire Dec. 28, he agreed with a decision by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., not to insist the matter be a condition of the deal. He added that Democrats will continue to push for the extended benefits to be included in other legislation.

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